The race to space in the 21st century

For those old enough to remember the 1960s, they will remember a time when nations were going against nations in the race to be the first to send a man into space. Sending a man into space alone wasn’t enough though. It had to go further and allow a man to take a step on the moon. Half a century later, we of course now know how this turned out.

This first space race saw the USA and Soviet Russia compete and capture the imagination of a generation. The space race of the 21st century is a little different. Rather than country pitted against country, what we are seeing now is private companies going head-to-head.

Where is the finish line?

The space race of the 21st century has other differences when compared to the 1960s too. It is not just the fact that it is private companies who are involved, it is what the finish line looks like. It is not about a whole nation taking credit for a trip to space or a man stepping foot on the moon. This time it is about space vacations being open to all as well as looking to colonise planets such as Mars. The first finishing line will be a man stepping foot on the red planet before the stage of colonisation is reached.

With a rocket capable of taking people to Mars looking to cost around $10 billion, it is understandable that entrants into the race are limited. Let’s take a look at who the main players are and their current standings.


Perhaps one of the best-known companies in the 21st-century space race is SpaceX. With Elon Musk at the fore, this is the company that seems to be at the front of the race right now. Musk doesn’t just want to look at space vacations: he has an idea that humans can be an interplanetary species.

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Virgin Galactic

An American based company fronted by Richard Branson, Virgin has different aims to those of Musk. Here, it is all about vacations and travel. Those at Virgin want to open space travel up to everyone and make it as accessible as a flight or car journey is right now. In an interview with Betway Casino, Dr Hawley talks of his experiences and the wonder of space. Involved with the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope back in 1990, Hawley took the journey from a child obsessed with the original space race to an astronaut himself.


Given the standing that Boeing already has in the world of aviation, it is only to be expected that, as a company, it would wade into the space race. The CEO of Boeing boasts of his certainty that the person who first steps foot on Mars will arrive on a Boeing rocket.

What of NASA?

With private companies taking centre stage, NASA may have become a little redundant. This was avoided by the offer to share its expertise in order to advise and criticise the progress being made.

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